Jeff and Rebecca Carpenter traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit their sponsored child Silenny. Jeff said that he and his wife were blessed to see how "a child's beauty can burst out, even amid depressed surroundings." And they saw firsthand how "a tiny financial contribution to a life to a family really can be magnified beyond measure."
When you first notice Jeff Carpenter's cane you assume he's recovering from a sprained ankle or twisted knee. After all, Jeff's a leader in Compassion's Advocates Network, serving in a position that requires traveling to Compassion events, standing for hours in a Compassion booth, speaking in churches, and encouraging others to sponsor children in need. It's hard work that's often physically demanding, but even more so for Jeff. Jeff uses a cane because he has multiple sclerosis (MS).
Jeff admits it's a challenge. He needs a cane to walk, tires easily, and describes his memory as having "gone south." But he also explains that he didn't have much choice in becoming a Child Advocate: "I sensed God's calling. God wanted me working for His kingdom."
A Journey of Faith
Jeff was introduced to Compassion at a 1999 Christmas concert where Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Point of Grace performed. "I was skeptical, having never heard of Compassion," Jeff confesses. But, in a "leap of faith," Jeff sponsored a girl in Uganda named Dorothy, and this changed his life.
Shortly after he sponsored Dorothy, Jeff's MS struck with a vengeance. Clumsy hands and dulled responses ended Jeff's career as a computer systems analyst and sent him into disability retirement in his early 40s. For three years, Jeff admits, he "crawled up the cliff of self-doubt." But with Christ's strength, his wife's love, and encouraging letters from Dorothy, Jeff climbed out of his despair and into a new "career" as a Compassion Child Advocate.
"With my heart warmed by my experience sponsoring Dorothy, and impressed by the sincerity and integrity of Compassion, I joined the Advocates Network!" Jeff explains. And the first time Jeff helped link waiting children with sponsors, he knew he had made the right choice. "My heart soared like an eagle when three children were sponsored. Three kids got hope because of my effort!"
After encouraging so many others to sponsor children in need, Jeff and his wife, Becca, decided to broaden their own commitment and now sponsor five Compassion children.
Jeff soon discovered that the more he worked as a Compassion Advocate, the happier he became and he was ready for more. He took another leap of faith and accepted an invitation to be an Area Coordinator for the Advocates Network. As Jeff explains, "Now I'm helping other Compassion Advocates in southern Oregon manifest the mandates in their hearts for impoverished children."
Called to Serve
"God has given me abilities that I never expected," Jeff explains. "I have limited movement, but I can walk, stand and speak in public with a smile on my face. God is using MS as a witness. I'm invigorated and unaware of limits when manning a table for the children, or when telling someone about our mission. Now I'm in overdrive, feeling consistent joy and a desire to serve with persistence!"
(Learn more about becoming a Compassion Child Advocate.)